As a good and solicitous mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary protects her children.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is observed in the United States of America on December 12th, commemorating as a third class feast the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Juan Diego in December 1531 and the subsequent miracle of her image being impressed upon his tilma (a rough cloak woven from vegetable fibers).
This miraculous image spoke to the Aztecs in their symbolic—or glyphic—language on many levels. But primarily the imagery showed who the Lady of Tepeyac was and her power exemplified by being "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” This important symbolism was further confirmed by the name she gave to Juan Diego's in his Nahuatl tongue, "Coatlaxopeuh"—rendered in Spanish as "Guadalupe"—meaning "the one who crushes the serpent"—here not just in reference the Devil, but a specific Aztecan deity.
The results of this singular miracle was nothing less than miraculous itself as the native Indians of Mexico began to convert to the One, True Catholic Faith by the millions. Previously these varied peoples had suffered under the scourge of the Aztec religion, one of the bloodiest forms of paganism known to mankind (for example, the human sacrifice of over 10,000 in a single day to dedicate a new temple).
Remarking on the tilma's imagery, Our Lady radiates peace and serenity with her consoling demeanor and posture, yet with a calm strength she overwhelms the violent and bloodthirsty gods of the Aztecs, vividly demonstrated by her blocking out the sun god and standing upon the moon god, the pagan religion's two most powerful deities.
The solicitude expressed on the face of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the souls of all Americans (whether they reside in the regions of the North, Central or South)—thus the appropriateness of her title as "Empress of the Americas" is perhaps even more profoundly comprehended when we consider her consoling words to Juan Diego summarized as: "Trust in me: I am your mother".
"I am your mother"
The following words of Our Lady of Guadalupe have been extracted from the Nican Mopohua, a 16th century historical account of the apparitions and miraculous event written in Nahuatl by Antonio Valeriano. These words of the Blessed Virgin Mary were spoken to Juan Diego over the course of several days. The historical context has been omitted so the reader may concentrate on Holy Mother's consoling message of solicitude.
First apparition; December 9
Juanito, dearest Juan Diego.
Juanito, my dearest son, where are you going?
Know and understand well, you my most humble son, that I am the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what my clemency pretends, go to the palace of the bishop of Mexico, and you will say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here on this plain a temple be built to me; you will accurately relate all you have seen and admired, and what you have heard. Be assured that I will be most grateful and will reward you, because I will make you happy and worthy of recompense for the effort and fatigue in what you will obtain of what I have entrusted. Behold, you have heard my mandate, my humble son; go and put forth all your effort."
Second apparition; December 9
Hark, my little son, you must understand that I have many servants and messengers, to whom I must entrust the delivery of my message, and carry my wish, but it is of precise detail that you yourself solicit and assist and that through your mediation my wish be complied. I earnestly implore, my son the least, and with sternness I command that you again go tomorrow and see the bishop. You go in my name, and make known my wish in its entirety that he has to start the erection of a temple which I ask of him. And again tell him that I, in person, the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, sent you."
Fourth apparition; December 12
Hear me and understand well, my little son, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle, who will not die now of it. Be assured that he is now cured.
Climb, my dear son, to the top of the hill; there where you saw me and I gave you orders, you will find different flowers. Cut them, gather them, assemble them, then come and bring them before my presence.
My dear little son, this diversity of roses is the proof and the sign which you will take to the bishop. You will tell him in my name that he will see in them my wish and that he will have to comply to it. You are my ambassador, most worthy of all confidence. Rigorously I command you that only before the presence of the bishop will you unfold your mantle and disclose what you are carrying. You will relate all and well; you will tell that I ordered you to climb to the hilltop, to go and cut flowers; and all that you saw and admired, so you can induce the prelate to give his support, with the aim that a temple be built and erected as I have asked.”
To read further about the historical context of the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we suggest the contemporaneous account of Bernal Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain. You can also read about some Jesuit missionary work in Black Robes in Paraguay, which was so successful that it led to a political crisis and the subsequent suppression of the order.
Lastly, have you ever heard of the lesser-known miraculous image and message of Our Lady of Quito from Ecuador in Central America? Was she referring to Archbishop Lefebvre and his priestly society when she spoke "of a prelate who will absolutely oppose this [20th century] wave of apostasy and impiety—saving the priesthood by forming good priests"? As Archbishop Lefebvre stated during his 1988 Episcopal Consecrations sermon:
I do not say that prophecy refers to me. You may draw your own conclusions. I was stupefied when reading these lines but I cannot deny them, since they are recorded and deposited in the archives of this apparition."
Our Lady as the woman "who will crush the head of the serpent" is also the destroyer of all heresies and error and consoled by this truth of her motherly protection, we confidently approach her with the words: Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!